Having parents is not optional. Neither is being a child. That is the basic relationship of all human existence—parent to child and child to parent. Yet how do we navigate that relationship in a sinful world where we as parents wound our children—sin against them—and where we as children wound our parents—sin against them? How can parents stop the sowing and reaping of woundedness—sins against their children—that result in bitter root judgment and inner vow responses to pain, which eventually impact their adult children’s lives in such negative and destructive ways?
Healing Our Children’s Hearts
Sitting and listening to Mark and Maureen Sandford for an afternoon turned our hearts to our children in a new way. All 65 of us in attendance began to realize that we could be different parents to our children no matter how long we had been parents, rather than being a wounded replica of the perhaps domineering, emotionally absent, hurting parents we had had. What an exciting time it was to attend “Healing Our Children’s Hearts” event in January 2017!
We journeyed with Mark Sandford, Spiritual Director of Elijah House Ministries, in Coeur D Alene, Idaho, and his wife Maureen as they led us into a child’s world and heart to understand who they are and what those tiny hearts really need from mom and dad.
To start with, Mark shared how as parents they decided to get vulnerable before their children—to share their own hurts and wounds from growing up. They explained that often when things in their family went wrong it was due to those unhealed events in their lives. This helped release their children from guilt, feeling the family troubles were their fault. Next, they were even able to apologize to their three children for where they had behaved wrongly and had hurt them. Amazingly, the Sandords were able to share their own wounded pasts and then apologize in ways that their kids did not feel they had to become a mommy or a daddy to their poor, victimized, and wounded parents. What a gift!
Open Lines of Communication
As a result of sharing their own struggles, the children were able to open up and talk about themselves. Then, the Sandfords realized that children don’t often have the words to communicate their difficult emotions—the anger, grief, or fear that is deep inside. So they began giving their kids a vocabulary to describe their own emotions so as parents they could hear what was in their hearts. As parents, Mark and Maureen learned to validate their children’s feelings rather than correct or criticize how they felt. In this way, the children were able to be who they really were by sharing their emotions, not just trying to please their parents through burying their feelings and being the good little kids or only saying what mom and dad wanted to hear.
Finally, in a sweeping teaching on Jacob’s life from Genesis 27 through 33, Mark explained how Jacob had to strive to receive the blessing. Even though his father Isaac did bless Jacob, it was a stolen blessing and that blessing did not tell Jacob who he really was. So he lived out of an inner vow: “I have to make it happen so that I get the blessing.” Thus, Jacob lived a life of swindling others until he met “a man” who truly blessed him in Genesis 32; he met God face to face and was told: “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Later in life as an old man, Jacob was able to bless each of his children in Genesis 48 and 49, telling them their true identity apart from wounds so that they could live out their life’s destiny. This is the amazing Hebrew blessing that we as parents can learn to give our children—telling them who they are, not just nice encouraging words. (This continues in Israel today, as parents bestow the blessing on their children throughout their lives.)
Save the Date – Apr 29th
This was a thrilling event, which gave us new insights into our own hearts as parents and new eyes and ears to see and hear the hearts of our children. However, we scarcely scratched the surface, covering only the four topics of apologizing, emotions, inner vows, and giving the blessing. There are actually nine topics in the DVD series on this subject that the Sandfords have created.
How to fully replicate healing our children’s hearts in greater depth in our own families and relationships with our children is a emphasis still to be explored. So in April we will be bringing Part 2 of this important teaching: It’s Not Too Late: A Deeper Experience of Healing Our Children’s Hearts. Time will be allowed for practicums.
From some of our attendants:
This event brought to my mind regrettable situations of raising my children. For example, I realized I didn’t comfort them when they needed comfort, believing a lie that they had to toughen up. So they were left emotionally abandoned. I can only say that this “Healing Our Children’s Hearts” teaching is so important for younger and middle-aged parents to avoid wounding their children, and to also repair emotional damage already done. It’s really not too late!
– Ray L
The “Healing Our Children’s Hearts” event was helpful to me as a parent because I felt encouraged by Mark and Maureen as they shared openly their own unique journey as parents to their children. They inspired me to be more proactive about caring for my children’s hearts–spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically–by taking extra efforts to ask questions, to pray with them and to hold/hug them, instead of passively letting our busy agenda dominate our daily lives. I would encourage all parents and grandparents to come to the April event to be ministered to by their loving and spirit-filled teachings.
– Gloria L
Excellent seminar about the hearts of children! The words we say, the things we do all affect the heart. I wish I would have understood this when I was raising my own children. Yet it’s not too late because I now have a grandson, his wife, and great granddaughter living with me—and soon to be another dear great grandchild joining us in March. Much healing needs to be done in their hearts and by the grace of God, He will bring it to pass, and hopefully I can be a part of that healing using what I’ve learned.
– Camilla M
I am familiar with Mark Sandfords’s teachings already, but this teaching on Healing Our Children’s Hearts really gave me and my husband hope. We didn’t get saved until after our children were adults, so we made a lot of mistakes and felt hopeless. Mark gave very specific ways we need to still parent our children no matter how old they are. He explained how to make restitution to heal our children’s hearts. I will be going to the follow up event in April and would recommend all parents to go. It is good to hear these truths again and again so we can change our thought patterns and beliefs according to God’s word.
– Vickie F
We hope you will be able to join us on April 29th. Save the date and watch for more information soon.
– Dorie Lorden, MSW